The Carrington – Tuesday $3 Pintxos
There’s no doubt that this is a tough time for restaurateurs: tighter purse strings, high rents, an incessant parade of new eateries and a flighty dining public only interested in flocking around the latest shiny new thing. Every week we’re hearing of new closures – and it seems like the trend is unlikely to end soon.
So how are restaurants luring in customers in such a difficult climate? Well… coupons and deep discounting are certainly one way to lure in potential new diners. But from my own experience as a greedy diner, I know my loyalty is only as good as whatever coupon website will give me the next best discount. And though I love a good half-price coupon as much as anyone, it hasn’t escaped my notice that four restaurants I’ve purchased coupons from in the past have since closed for business…
So if massive discounts miss the mark, what then? An alternative to chasing the high-volume injection of coupon customers might be found in the somewhat old fashioned method of drawing in locals and courting repeat business. Now I’m definitely no business expert, but I think a great example of this is what’s happening up at The Carrington in Surry Hills!
Thanks to the strong social media presence of both @carringtonhotel and @jamiecarrington – you may already be familiar with some of the many daily specials The Carrington dishes up each week. From Monday $10 Meatball night to Sunday Spanglish Roast Dinner, these daily specials are a fun way to offer novelty, variety and also the cheeky feeling of getting a good deal. It’s also a formula that seems to be working well at other venues backed by publicans, Jaime Wirth and James Miller: The Forresters, The Norfolk and The Abercrombie (try get a seat next Tuesday at The Norfolk’s $3 taco night and you’ll see what I mean.)
But this blog is about Tuesday $3 Pintxos night, so I better get on with it! Every Tuesday, Chef Jamie Thomas and his team at The Carrington hotel run $3 Pintxos night – crafting a specials menu of 5 different $3 pintxos which vary from week to week. I have to admit I still don’t know how to pronounce it without mumbling and looking off into the distance, but “Pintxos” is a Spanish/Basque term for a bar snack; often spiked with a toothpick. I especially love how Chef Jamie tweets out a twitpic of the night’s pintxos dishes.
It’s fun, it’s cheap (you can get a platter of one of each pintxos for a very unprincely sum of $15!), and best of all – it’s reliable. Just like Thursday-late-night-shopping and Tight-Arse-Tuesdays at the movies, Tuesday night at The Carrington is pintxos night (at least it is at the time I’m writing this haha – the future is uncertain after all)
The changing rotation of pintxos is fun too, and a good incentive to come back. I’ve been twice in the past month alone… and I’m sure I’ll be back again soon. On the particular week we visit, the menu includes:
Rare roast beef with beetroot and horseradish – I like the zingy horseradish sauce with the sweet beetroot spread. And the beef is melt in the mouth.
The Sweet Potato & Smoked Cheddar Tortilla is like your best ever creamy potato bake, and it’s great fun biting through all the layers.
Paella Ball with Crispy Squid is probably my favourite of the night. The outside is just so crisp, with a surprising black squid ink paella inside.
Smoked Eggplant and Pomegranate tostada is lovely and indeed smokey, with little bursts of sweetness from the pomegranate seeds. But would have been even nicer if the bread was still crispy.
Pork Belly Slider, Pickled Cabbage looks glorious! The pickled cabbage slaw cuts through the rich pork belly slice. I’ve got a little piece of extra crackling pinned on top of my bun, but a few others at my table are a bit disappointed to be missing their pieces. If you’re someone who likes volume for your dollar though, this is definitely the one to get. For $3 it’s an absolute bargain.
Of course we can’t let the opportunity pass by the grab some dessert and drinks too. We grab a jug of the Single Mother cocktail ($25 a jug) – red wine, southern comfort, nutmeg, sugar topped with ginger beer. If ever a sangria tasted like Christmas this would be it. And my friends get a deconstructed Banana Split with Fried Milk to share. The fried milk comes out looking like fried cube-like donuts, complete with brown crust topped with sugar and cinnamon. But inside is like a milk pudding! Don’t ask me how it’s done, but it’s delicious (googling Leche Frita recipes gives me a bit of a hint though!).
Another friend orders a Creme Catalana – which is like a citrus flavoured creme brulee – a bit less exciting than fried milk but still tasty:
It’s all a lot of fun. Beautifully crafted pintxos for a bargain (seriously… that’s a lot of pintxos to serve in one night), good drinks, friendly service, cosy atmosphere that’s neither too loud nor too fussy. And they take bookings! (huzzah!) What’s not to love.
565 Bourke Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Ph: 02 9360 4714
Bookings can be made through firstname.lastname@example.org